With breakout roles in both One of Us Is Lying and currently, a fan-favorite in All American: Homecoming, Martin Bobb-Semple is captivating YA drama audiences.
The actor played Evan in the former Peacock mystery series and plays college baseball player Orlando “Lando” Johnson in The CW sports series. On the latter, he is in a front-burner storyline that has resulted in a love triangle of sorts between Lando, Simone Hicks, played by Geffri Maya, and Damon Sims, played by Peyton Alex Smith.
While he had minor appearances in the tail end of the first season, Bobb-Semple has a much more expanded role in season 2 as his character transfers to Bringston University. For Bobb-Semple, it was a transition that became fun.
In a recent interview with Shadow and Act, the actor told us, “I think even just for me as an actor coming into this kind of well-built machine that they already had….it was a little nerve-wracking [laughs]. I’d met Geffri briefly in the past and we had a couple of mutual friends, but I didn’t work with her at all really in the first season. It was mostly me and Peyton working together. And of course, coming in [as Lando], it was very much like [I was] coming in as this [character] who kind of just hates everyone and hates everything. He’s the bad guy. But it was fun, and me and Peyton, we both approach work very similarly and became fast friends.”
Lando has had an interesting trajectory, from being sort of being like an antagonist for one of the major players in the series, to becoming adored by the fans and someone to root for– especially when it comes to the Lando and Simone relationship.
“After meeting in the auditorium that day, I think Lando saw something in her…that he was intrigued by,” said Bobb-Semple of the characters’ dynamic. “He didn’t know who this girl was, and I think he just found the whole debate thing fun. It was genuinely fun for him, whereas for her, it was like, ‘Why are you trying to undermine me? Why are you trying to be like that?’ But he was like, ‘That was fun, you are a cool girl and I like your vibe.’ But she was like, ‘No, I don’t like you.’ Then, especially when Damon was like, ‘I don’t like this guy,’ she agreed.”
“Then I think once the bomb threat happened, she started to see more in him that I think nobody else had seen before,” he continued. “That was a side to Lando that I think none of us had seen before. The audience hadn’t seen it, [and] I definitely didn’t see it. So I think up until then he was kind of like this asshole-ish type of guy, but then that day I think a lot changed and [she] wanted to get to know him more. She was like, ‘Actually, this is a cool guy’. And then it went from zero to 100 quickly, but it was fun. I think his whole trajectory during the first half of the season was a surprise to a lot of us, but it was a lot of fun to play for sure.”
It has been interesting for fans and the actor himself to see the character’s journey so far.
“He’s such a complex character,” he added. “There is a side to him that we got to see this season that we didn’t get to see last season. We kind of saw him for a little bit at the end of season 1 and he was kind of a jerk. I feel like I got to explore a side of him that we just wouldn’t have thought [of], because I definitely wouldn’t [have thought] that we would see this loveable and interesting side to him– the side of him that wants to help and be there for people.”
The actor says that his easy transition on the show is due to the welcoming environment of the cast, all of whom he has grown extremely close to.
He explained, “We are all like a big family, which is rare in a lot of jobs that you do these days. I also felt this energy on One of Us Is Lying, and it is great. I have a lot of lifelong friends. Me and Peyton are so close, me and Geffri are close– I couldn’t be in LA for her birthday, which is annoying [laughs]. I share most of my scenes with those two. Me and Peyton, we’ll go shopping together on the weekends, we’ll go out for drinks and dinner, we’ll go to the gym– same thing for me and Sylvester [Powell] and me and Rhoyle [Ivy King], me and Netta [Walker]….Netta is hilarious by the way, one of my favorite people. Camile [Hyde] is hilarious, Cory [Hardrict] is great–we are all like a huge family and Kelly [Jenrette] is like our mom, which is also hilarious. I’ll come [to set] in the mornings and everyone is laughing and joking…it is just a nice environment to be in. It takes time to build those kinds of relationships, but when you see people every day for months at a time, you just naturally become close to them, especially when they are good people.”
Bobb-Semple got his first start on stage, and he credits the work he did there as an asset to him through his various roles over the last few years.
“My first ever professional job was when I was nine years old and I was in the West End production of Oliver Twist,” he explained. “So that was like a huge thing for me. I’d never done anything before and the first thing I’d ever done was on this huge scale. I think stage work helps you to embody a character a lot better because you have to have physicality and you have to be able to kind of show the stage this character, whereas on screen everything’s a lot more small. It’s minimal, it’s kind of in the eyes, it’s like what you say and like what you’re thinking.”
“One of the things an acting coach told me once is that there are actors that are great at screen, there are actors that are great at stage, and then, there are actors that are great at both. And if you’re an actor that’s great at both, then that kind of separates you from like everybody else, right?” he continued. “I think it’s very difficult to be good at both, just because the styles are different, but it definitely helped me in terms of confidence and being able to embody a character. I think once you can do all of that on stage, then all you’ve gotta do on screen is kind of bring it all back to kind of make it a lot more natural, which is in some ways not easy, but in some ways, I would say it’s easy to go from stage to screen than it is to go from screen to stage. It really helped me to kind of understand the whole acting style a lot more, especially [with me] getting older now.”
For what’s next in his career, the actor has his eyes on two different types of things he would be into.
“I think for me, what I would love to be next is a film,” the actor said. “I’ve never done a film, so I would love to do like a really good feature..like a drama-thriller. That’s the vibe I really like. But definitely, I think I wanna stay with the screen a little longer, but [on] the big screen. I think a film should be next or if it was to be a series, then it would be like maybe a limited series…something like HBO. I like challenges. I like kind of jumping to the next thing and elevating to a new challenge. Luckily for me, every job I’ve had in the last kind of like five years have all been steps up and they’ve all been like an extra challenge.”
And as far as Lando and Simone goes, the actor teased what’s to come.
“Without giving away too much, I feel like we are gonna start to see the whole love triangle thing form a little more, we’re gonna see more of what decision she’s gonna make…we’re gonna kind of start to see the dynamics of that kind of play out,” he continued. “It’s a lot of fun to play, I think ’cause we’re all so close and it’s like on screen we have to go act like we don’t like each other, which I think is actually way better because me and Peyton are able to play up a lot more because we’re so close. We can kind of go the extra mile because I know him. And Geffri’s just great.”
All American Homecoming airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on The CW.
The above interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.